Blogging Bayport Alameda

January 29, 2014

Swap Trek III: the search for space

Filed under: Alameda, City Council, Development — Tags: , , — Lauren Do @ 6:09 am

I’ve been sort of ignoring the whole Ron Cowan/Harbor Bay Club swap-y thing lately because it’s kinda reached levels of absurdity.  When last we left this saga Ron Cowan had sent out menacing emails and I actually never wrote about Ron Cowan’s latest plan to build a hotel in the place of the Harbor Bay Club if his residential development was not allowed to move forward.  FYI, don’t visit the website for the architecture firm, it is the most obnoxious thing ever.

I mean, is there a lot more than that?  Ron Cowan says that he wants to build a hotel and “conference center” if the City opts not to rezone the Harbor Bay Club to residential.   Because lots of people have expressed a desire for hotel space on Bay Farm Island.  Right?   The whole plan for the hotel is to put up an alternative — a less desirable alternative but not so outlandish that it doesn’t pass the laugh test — that would be objectionable to neighbors that they might reconsider the houses as the lesser of the two evils.

Although it would provide an Alameda alternative for the occasional wedding, but honestly if you wanted to have a hotel setting that would be perfect for weddings, might I suggest the site that Harbor Bay just had rezoned by the City Council? It’s right on the water which would present beautiful views for photos and things.

Anyway, apparently one the big reasons that Harbor Bay Club is saying that they have to move is because the Club isn’t doing well in the location that it’s currently in. According to research by the Harbor Bay Neighbors, that’s not precisely right:

In 2008 HBIA, using a side company called Harbor Bay Club Associates LP, took a $6 million loan against Harbor Bay Club and then rolled that into a $7 million loan in July 2013. (Read the public loan documents from 2008 and 2013)

A loan of this magnitude typically requires the cash flow from the business to be at least 120% greater than the debt service and the loan amount to be no more than 65% of the value of the collateral (in this case the land). So, despite the payments on a $7M loan, the Club is generating a sizable income stream for HBIA. Cowan also has millions of dollars worth of equity in the business, which he would hardly walk away from by going out of business. No one with any financial sense would be so fiscally irresponsible as to default on a profitable a business like this, especially a multi-millionaire developer.

This financial revelation changes everything. It reinforces that HBIA is not concerned with providing a quality facility (or they would have reinvested a chunk of that $6M from 2008 into deferred maintenance at the existing Club) and proves the Club is financially stable with no threat of closure.

I will add that I’m not opposed to the whole Ron Cowan housing plans or Ron Cowan hotel plans because I’m clutching my pearls about traffic, density, evacuation routes or anything around those topics.  Because really none of this affects me because it’s on the other side of the Island. What I do object to is the sense of entitlement that Ron Cowan has where he thinks that he is “owed” these homes or “owed” a way to squeeze every last dollar out of Alameda that he possibly can.  He planned this development from the very beginning, he could have maximized the development from the start and maxed out his unit number from the very beginning and no one would have said boo about it.  He chose instead to build what is currently there and elected not to be judicious about how large he made the lots, styling Harbor Bay as a more traditional suburban development and there is nothing wrong with that.   What is wrong is his attempts to undo what he has already done and built.


  1. Ron Cowan is a bully…and what the say is you don’t give into a bully or they keep pushing you around. He must have enough money to last him a lifetime. Just kick Ron Cowan out of Alameda…change the name of the road named after him…it is embarrassing how he exploits Alameda.

    Comment by Joe — January 29, 2014 @ 8:40 am

  2. A high end hotel with a spa, a conference center, a fitness club, and restaurants on the newly designed Rees Jones golf course would have been great – but we know that’s never going to happen.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 29, 2014 @ 9:29 am

  3. You know when you warn us not to look at a website, the first thing we have to do is google the name and check out the website. Now that I have picked myself up from the floor following a flash induced epileptic seizure, let me second your opinion of the architect’s website. In fairness to them, I hope it was something designed by their teenage son in his intro to flash class, and not something they paid for.

    Comment by notadave — January 29, 2014 @ 12:50 pm

  4. I don’t know Ron, but I know he isn’t honest. Everything he wants is for his best interest and he doesn’t care about Alameda.

    Comment by Joe — January 29, 2014 @ 12:57 pm

  5. Karen, A high end Hotel and conference center would mean that we lost the Mif. Thank goodness that didn’t happen. We now have a management company that is going to make the Corica complex a really great place to play golf, which is what is was always meant to be. Have you checked out the New Mif yet.?

    Comment by John P. — January 29, 2014 @ 5:01 pm

  6. High end hotel at bay farm is not even remotely possible , for several reason , space , they cannot go up due to FAA regulations Ron Cowan forgot those {yes with age we are all forgetful , it would be limited to a short 2 story building , this narrow the amount of room available as well as conference / convention center which is the bread and butter of Hotels . By the way what kind of budget do you plan for a high end hotel , start counting by the multiples hundred of millions anything else is Motel ,Such venture will never be profitable. And I challenge Mr Cowan to come up with a business plan and operating cost , talk is cheap , high end hotel are extremely expensive ….
    I have worked in the finest and best hotel an Restaurant across the world ,
    It is very obvious Mr Cowan has been exposed to second hand marijuana smoke. or sat too long under the plane taking off at the Oakland Airport.
    I have a suggestion why not ask the Mustang Ranch to grant you a license ,with some nice red light ……that is very profitable like that you can throw parties for all your politicians friends.

    Comment by Nawoc — January 29, 2014 @ 10:07 pm

  7. Mr Ron Cowan
    Quick question here , is the Willie named here the same Willie that used to have private parties with doors locked on the basement of a club south of market … just wondering ….
    Should You and Willie desire to run Mayor Marie Gilmore out of town , you might want to think twice ,
    There are a lot of Managers , Cook and Waiters out there which know far more than anyone has ever been able to discover during their inquiry , they simply did not ask the right question to the right people plain , pure and simple .
    Nothing prevent them from starting all over again , this time it will really be ugly , you see Waiters have the bad habit of not declaring their income , some Chef take kickback Many of these Managers were known for being able to provide any kind of favor , aaahhhh Tiburon these were the good old days …..
    Beauty of it they all can be tracked within days .
    You are betting on the loosing end …….Think about it .

    Comment by john — January 29, 2014 @ 10:50 pm

  8. I might take up golf again. I took lessons a few years ago and threw my back out and couldn’t walk for a week…so I gave it up.

    Comment by Joe — January 29, 2014 @ 11:37 pm

  9. John P. I’ll check it out this week-end. Glad to hear things are working out with Greenway.

    Comment by Karen Bey — January 30, 2014 @ 6:39 am

  10. John P. you’re right. Makes me want to take golf lessons.

    Comment by Karen Bey — February 1, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

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